Design and the Elastic Mind

I have spent a great deal of time today exploring the online version of ‘Design and the Elastic Mind’ – the new exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Instead of jumping into one of those enormous steel birds, you can view everything – and more – now, in the virtual from the comfort of your seat. You can even watch the exhibition’s videos, e.g. the Inner Life of the Cell animation. At first the myriads of possibilities on the site are quite overwhelming, but once you have started clicking on one thing, the exploration, strangely, takes on a less frenzied pace.

Having started off as a design student, I am always curious what my almost-colleagues are up to. As a designer you are always expected to either predict the future – or alter its course to your employer’s advantage. And this exhibition makes a hell of a lot of predictions at once. Having said that – they all go into a similar direction, but then the exhibition is about the ‘reciprocal relationship between science and design in the contemporary world’ focusing on
‘design objects and concepts that marry the most advanced scientific research with attentive consideration of human limitations, habits, and aspirations’. That basically translates as: you won’t find many objects (like this one) for use in post-apocalyptic scenarios here. What is mostly on display is an often playful enthusiasm about new technologies. However, there are nuances of optimism, especially when it comes to how potentially ‘good’ technology is going to be used, our responsibilities or how different people’s ideas of perfection play into the development of technologies and our common future. There is also a lot of ironic commentary at work, such as in Tom Gabzdil Libertny’s busy bee manufacturing process.

I am currently fascinated by what could be called an interactive museum of disease – a space where people can experience various illnesses in a safe environment after viruses and the like have been eradicated from this planet. Another take on viruses is Troika’s hilarious Newton virus that ‘applies the laws of gravity to computer interfaces’. Talking of which – as I suddenly feel ‘gravity’ affecting my eyelids (nothing to do with this exciting page!), I have to obey my antiquated, largely unmodified flesh and gravitate towards my perfectly designed bed! Good night!


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